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Digital Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

posted March 5, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books publishing technology trends

A Picture of a eBook
Image via Wikipedia

People seem to have very strong feelings about digital media. It seems every day I read articles embracing digital media and articles dismissing it. And even within the differing camps there is discord—Kindle vs. iPad vs. whatever the e-readers from Sony and Barnes & Noble are called. Putting aside the nuts and bolts of publishing costs, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. If you want to read books on paper, then read books on paper. If you want to read ebooks, go right ahead. Can’t we all just get along?

One thing on which we can probably all agree is that the traditional publishing model is outdated and needs to be modernized. So, whichever tribe you belong to, you might find some humor in this tongue-in-cheek article from The Atlantic.

An iPad is an Apple. A Kindle is an Orange. What Is an Orizon?

posted February 19, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in E-books books technology


Inundated with a never-ending stream of tech news, it’s easy to confuse apples and oranges, so here’s a simple thing to keep in mind. The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader. The iPad is a multipurpose tablet that can be used for many things, including reading.

In fact, the iPad doesn’t come with an e-reader app. If you want to read a book on it, you will have to download Apple’s iBooks app from its App Store. It will be interesting to see how many people will never bother to download the iBooks app and how many people will never use the iPad for book reading. It’s worth remembering this comment about the Kindle from Steve Jobs in the New York Times.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

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The Future of E-Readers is Spelled M-I-R-A-S-O-L

posted December 4, 2009

Posted by Thomas Riggs in E-books technology trends

Mirasol Glass Art

Mirasol Glass Art

In the midst of a revolution, when changes roll over the present with rapidity and disregard, it’s hard to see far into the future. In fact, at best you might be able to catalog various abstract possibilities to come, much like guessing the end of a novel when you’re still on page 20.

Then again, sometimes you see something, and you know you’ve glimpsed the inevitable. That happened to me yesterday.

E-readers are about to change so dramatically that the present Kindle is going to seem like an Etch A Sketch. What makes an e-reader so different from a computer screen is its screen surface.

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What’s That Smell?

posted November 23, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in books

As the digital revamp of our reading lives surges remorselessly forward, defenders of “the old technology” inevitably cite the tactile, or sensuous, quality of paper books as a pleasure that cannot be quantified, much less duplicated by an e-reader. The physicality of a paper book, especially an old one, they say, carries with it a certain mystique, having passed through the hands of generations of readers, its pages becoming weathered and worn.


And what is the most evocative aspect of this sensory allure, the hallmark of a book’s longevity and import? It’s the smell, of course—that musty, dusty, indescribable funk that wafts out of the open tome to remind you: these ideas were forged in another time; you, dear reader, are but a single traveler over the vast continent of human intellectual history.

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The Kindle and a Talking Head

posted September 4, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in E-books books technology textbook publishing

David Byrne speaking at the 2006 Future of Mus...
Image via Wikipedia

I have long been a fan of David Byrne. Not only do I consider him to be a genius artist and musician but he also seems to be a thoughtful and keen observer. I was thus quite curious when I discovered he tried out the Amazon Kindle DX and blogged about his experiences.

It appears my assessment of Byrne as “thoughtful” may have been correct, as he goes into a lot of detail about features on the Kindle DX he liked and didn’t like so much. There are no extremes, either; he didn’t think the Kindle DX was the most incredible invention ever, and he didn’t think it was a piece of garbage. Byrne also seems to know quite a bit about other ereaders on the market, and he comments with authority about the available formats.

All in all, Byrne enjoyed using the Kindle DX. Things he didn’t particularly care for, such as the absence of a backlight or its inability to display newspaper or magazine photos well, were not deal breakers. In fact, he offered positive spins on these points: the sacrifice of a backlight means you get an impressive battery life, and if you load your Kindle DX primarily with text, who cares if the graphics don’t look red hot?

Byrne also imagines how the future of publishing will change as ereaders become more commonplace. For the Kindle DX, which offers a larger screen than the regular Kindle and is designed to accommodate textbooks, Byrne muses, “If those textbooks can be sold as weightless $10 downloads the students and their parents will cheer, and the chiropractors will cry.” Again, though, Byrne is positive. Though he believes publishers will grumble at the lower prices ebook readers will demand, he says publishers will benefit from the reduction in distribution costs.

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